Reinhard E. Thielke operated a blacksmith and wagon shop in downtown Hawley, Pa., and later founded the Hawley Garage, a brick landmark on Church Street to this day.

HAWLEY - Reinhard E. Thielke operated a blacksmith and wagon shop in downtown Hawley, Pa., and later founded the Hawley Garage, a brick landmark on Church Street to this day.

While in his 20’s, Thielke operated the wagon and blacksmith shop with William F. Krellwitz.
The business  stood on Penn Avenue (17th Street) near Keystone Street.

The shop is shown on Sanborn fire insurance maps for Hawley for the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This was next to the current, but closed Vogler feed store, across the street from the side of the United Metal business. The 1897 map shows Thielke’s shop to be two stories, with the blacksmith at left and wood working at right, facing 17th Street. A carriage house was attached in back, and the largest section in the far back, containing a hay press. The shop was of wood construction.

There were three forges in the cellar.

Krellwitz and his wife Veronica were Prospect Street residents.

The blacksmith shop burned down in 1918 when it was owned by William Krellwitz. Vogler’s original feed mill, as well as Morris Skier’s store, also burned down in the same conflagration.

Auto repairs

Like so many young men, Thielke apparently had taken up an interest in the automobile. A 1908 (or 1909) news brief tells of a motor trip to Newburgh he took with friends, including Hawley Times editor Frank Warg. In 1911 Thielke and William Watts motored off to Oneonta, NY.

In July 1910, Theilke returned from New York where he taken instruction  on auto repairing, The Citizen reported in the Hawley column. He was ready to work on automobiles at the blacksmith and wheelwright shop. “Now he can show his ‘certificate of competency’,” so said the columnist added.

A news brief in the Wayne County Herald, November 12, 1910, however, stated that Theilke had dissolved his partnership in the blacksmith shop and sold his interest to Krellwitz.

A trade journal, The Horseless Age, in the May 8, 1912 edition, announced that two automotive garages were being prepared in Hawley and expected to be ready for occupancy that month. They were for William Watts at Main Avenue and River Street, and Reinhard Thielke on Church Street.

This may have been in the same location as the new garage he opened in 1919, made of brick.

He had a new business partner, William D. Edwards. He and his wife Alice lived at 315 Bishop Avenue.

The 1912 street directory places the firm of Theilke and Edwards on “Church [Street] near Bishop [Avenue].” Their line of work was given as “horseshoers and garage.” They were in catering to both the horse owners and the new class of customers, operators of the horseless carriage. This was a time of great change in the world of transportation.

The brick garage, at 709 Church Street, remains a landmark. It stands just east (to the right from the street) of the Baptist Church, not far from Bishop Avenue. “Hawley Garage” is clearly carved over two, angled corner doors, and the year “1919” is engraved in the center.

An advertisement for Hawley Garage in 1927 lists “Thielke and Edwards, proprietors, Dodge Brothers Sales & Service Station.” They carried Goodyear and Goodrich tires and tubes, Willard batteries, gas and oil, and offered storage. Their phone number was 68-R-3.

Thielke and Edwards continued as partners at least until 1931. By 1935, Theilke was listed without a business partner.

After Theilke retired, Baisden Brothers, further up on Church Street, took over the Dodge dealership.

His family

Reinhard Ernest Thielke was born June 12, 1874 in Hawley, to John and Adelaide (Sutter) Thielke. His parents immigrated from Germany. John’s full German name was Johann Jochim Friederich Thielke. He arrived from Hamburg to New York aboard the ship, Harmonia, August 25, 1868. Adelaide had arrived in 1858. They were wed in about 1871.

They made their home on 16th Street (Church Street. John was a carpenter by trade and evidently passed on his skills to his son Reinhard.

Children included Frank (1872); Reinhard (1874); Clara (1876); Etta (1879); John H. (1883); Elizabeth (1885) and Mary (1889).

“Nine”

Thomas E. Sheridan, of Hawley, remembers Thielke very well, and like so many in those days Thielke went by a nickname to his friends. “Nine,” Sheridan said. “Nine” was easier to say than “Reinhard,” Sheridan pointed out.

(Sheridan’s nickname was “Rafferty.”)

Sheridan recalled hearing “Nine” started out when he was eight or 10 years old, helping his older brother Frank shovel coal and ashes in and out of the furnace at the Hawley School.

John Thielke was one of 25 charter members of the Hawley Maennerchor, a German social club and singing society which organized February 5, 1874.

In 1906 in Hawley, their father was working as a carpenter; Reinhard, as a blacksmith; Etta, as a school teacher and Elizabeth, as a dressmaker. Mary boarded at home.

Reinhard’s name was sometimes written as Reinhart.

Reinhard’s brother John H. Thielke was 39 when he died in March 1913. A news brief stated he had succumbed to typhoid fever. John was working for an automobile company in New Brunswick NJ.

In August 1910, Reinhard was buying up all available stock in the Wayne and Lackawanna Telephone Company, The Citizen reported. The phone line extended from Hawley to Lake Ariel.

A news brief from 1912 lists  Reinhard Theilke as financial secretary of Hawley’s Elite Club, a men’s organization.

Theilke was a director of the Hawley Bank, serving as president, 1956 to 1968.

Sheridan said he called him “Boss” - Sheridan was the youngest member of the board and Thielke was in his 80’s and in charge of the bank (Sheridan became the bank president in 1972).

“He was a very unique person, quick to challenge you,” Sheridan recalled, and he enjoyed an argument. “I really enjoyed him,” Sheridan reflected.

Every Sunday afternoon at 2, Sheridan would pick him up and give a ride, to go over banking matters.

He said he remembers “Nine” sitting in his chair enjoying a William Penn cigar, which he could buy 50 for $2.19. One time he was handed a 10 cent cigar, which he examined, smelled and raved about how great it was. “Nine” would then ask if he could trade this in and get two, five cent cigars.

Reinhard Thielke was married Veronica B. (Seiler). She was born, February 14, 1982, in Hawley. Their home was at 715 Church Street, on the right side of the Hawley Garage as seen from the street.

Their daughter Elizabeth Adelaide Theilke, (known as Betty, or Betts) was born in 1917 and became a local school teacher. She later married Thomas M. Howells.

Library started on back porch

Betty Howells was one of the group of PTA moms who Peggy Murphy approached in 1961, with the idea of starting a public library in Hawley. Betty Howells offered the use of her back porch at 715 Church Street - the Thielke homestead. Open to PTA members only, the fledgling library stayed here only a short time, until they rented out a storefront at 520 Church Street later that year. At that time, the library was opened to the general public.

Reinhard’s wife lived to age 63, on May 29, 1945.

He continued to live with his daughter Betty and her family at the homestead.

Thomas Howells, a 1937 Hawley High School graduate, served in the Army in World War II. He worked as a hairdresser.

Thomas and Betty Howells had three daughters, Becky, Elaine and Barbara, and a son, David.

Betty Howells lived to January 11, 1993, and her husband Thomas lived to June 26, 2009.
Reinhard E. Thielke was 94 when he passed away on May 15, 1969.